Posts Tagged ‘C&O 1309’

C&O 1309 Restoration Half a Million Short

September 15, 2017

The effort to restore former Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 has fallen more than a half-million dollars short.

John Garner, CEO of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, send an email message this week pleading for donations.

The email said WMSR needed $530,000 to finish the restoration. Garner has warned in the past that the cost of restoring the 1309 was threatening the financial health of the WMSR and suggested that taking on the restoration project might have been a mistake.

The operating debut of the ex-C&O locomotive has been delayed more than once this year.

However, he has pledged that the railroad will see the restoration to completion.

No. 1309 would be the only functioning articulated locomotive in the United States.

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ARRC to Have Picnic During NKP 765 Visit

September 11, 2017

Since it looks like the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad No. 1309 won’t be ready any time soon, the ARRC will have a September Steam Weekend right in our backyard.

We will again hold a picnic in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park to coincide with the visit of Nickel Plate Road No. 765.

The officers had considered holding an overnight outing in Cumberland, Maryland, to watch the former Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 make its first trips in September. But those have been canceled.

The ARRC picnic will be held on Sunday, Sept. 17 or 24 at the Valley Picnic Area in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park along Riverview Road south of Peninsula.

The 765 will be running out of Akron on that day and will pass the picnic site four times during the day. It will be six times if you count ferry moves.

So even if you don’t plan on chasing NKP 765 through the Valley, you can see it without all the hassles of traffic and jockeying for position with other photographers.

The weather forecast will dictate which weekend we will have the picnic. If it’s going to be nice the first weekend, then that is the day we will do it.

If we get rain the first Sunday, then we will shoot for the second Sunday. If it rains both weekends, there won’t be a picnic.

The club will provide the hamburgers and hot dogs as well as the popular condiments.

Chef Martè will have some snacks and beverages available, but it may be best to bring your own. See you in the Valley.

C&O Restoration Could Run WMSR Out of Business

August 11, 2017

The head of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad is warning that the cost of restoring Chesapeake & Ohio No. 1309 might drive the railroad out of business.

“I’m a realist,” said General Manager John Garner. “At some point in time, we are going to run out of money. We’re looking to be able to finish the locomotive, but there’s that chance we’re going to be hung up on something else.”

That could be an unexpected and expensive repair such as the one that workers discovered last month. Corrosion on the axle boxes of the 2-6-6-2 Baldwin will mean that the axles will have to be sent to a contractor to be machined at a cost of $200,000.

That work is also expected to delay by two or three months the date when the locomotive can be steamed up and sent on a test run.

To bolster its cash flow, the WMSR has revived the WMSR Foundation to collect donations.

The foundation had been dormant for two years and links on its website for donations did not work.

“At some point in time we’re going to have to get the word out that our systems are up and functioning, and our foundation is respectable now,” Garner said. “I’ve been telling my friends, if you really love and want to support the Western Maryland, the best thing you can do is to buy a ticket.”

He was referring in part to a planned shop tour on Aug. 12. Tickets are available for $40.49 and can be purchased from the railroad’s website.

WMSR Head Expresses Regret about Taking on 1309 Restoration

August 3, 2017

The head of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad said steam may return to that line by the end of September, provided that a number of things fall into place.

Speaking during a radio program, John Garner said the cost of restoring ex-Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 has skyrocketed to $1.8 million and if he had been head of the WMSR in 2014 when the the locomotive was acquired he would never have agreed to acquire the engine from the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum.

Instead, Garner said he would have favored putting money and effort into rebuilding former Lake Superior & Ishpeming 2-8-0 No. 734, which ran on the WMSR until April 2016 when it was removed from service for its federally required 1,472-day inspection. Restoration of the 734 will cost $1.2 million.

“1309 is a magnificent locomotive; however, I think it is way too much of a locomotive for us. I think I would have restored 734. It’s much more appropriate for us,” Garner said.

“The 1309 project has been a huge project that’s eating us out of house and home,” Garner told Trains magazine. “However unfortunate it may be, that’s the gospel truth.”

Nonetheless, Garner said the WMSR is going to see the 1309 project through.

During his radio interview, Garner said that boiler work has been completed and a hydrostatic test will be performed in the next two or three weeks.

Garner said restoration work was delayed after contractors found corrosion pits on the locomotive’s axles, meaning they will need to be turned on a lathe. Wheel boxes and crank pins will have to be rebuilt as well.

The WMSR is also rebuilding its passenger car fleet to make it compliant with Federal Railroad Administration regulations.

A $250,000 grant from the State of Maryland is helping pay for that work. Thus far six cars have been rebuilt.

“WMSR does not have the funds to do heavy rebuilds on passenger cars,” Garner said during the radio interview. “The days of 14-car trains, 1,000 passengers a train, those days are over for now. We know we can do better, and as time and money permit, we’ll acquire additional equipment and bring more riders to Allegany County.”

Ridership on the WMSR this year has been up by 42 percent from 2016, but is below the 2015 ridership numbers.

“We’re hanging in there, but with the additional costs of restoring the locomotive, insurance costs, and maintenance on equipment we have done a boatload of right-of-way maintenance,” he said.

C&O Operation Delayed Until Winter

August 2, 2017

It now appears that Chesapeake & Ohio No. 1309 will not operate this year.

The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad and Trains magazine said they are delaying a photo charter the two had scheduled for September until early 2018.

The 2-6-6-2 is being restored by the WMSR and officials said that they expect the locomotive to be operational by early winter.

Assisting the tourist line with the restoration work in Ridgeley, West Virginia, is Diversified Rail Services.

“We will be seeing smoke and paint by the end of fall,” said steam locomotive restoration contractor Gary Bensman. “We want to make sure the engine is in good shape for its long-term sustainability.”

The additional work needed involves the wheels, running gear and ensuring that the 1949 Baldwin-built locomotive is compliant with applicable Federal Railroad Administration rules.

“Additional wheel work will take place to ensure the engine’s long term operability,” said WMSR CEO John Garner. “It makes much more sense from both a financial and a mechanical perspective to perform this work now than it does to reassemble the engine, run it, and then take it out of service again for repairs. We want to get it done right the first time. We are committed to returning the engine to service. We are optimistic for operations starting this winter.”

Works Continues on Restoring C&O 1309

June 27, 2017

Trains magazine reported on Monday that workers have begun installing the tubes into Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 at the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad shops.

The magazine said other work included workers applying firebox patches and conducting laser scans of the frame.

The locomotive is expected to return to operation later this year although no firm date has been set for its first public excursion.

Once operational, No. 1309 will be among the largest operating steam locomotives in the United States.

State Money Now Flowing to WMSR Project

May 19, 2017

State money is finally starting to flow into the coffers of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad and its contractors who have been seeking to restore a former Chesapeake & Ohio steam locomotive to operating condition this year.

Trains magazine reported this week that the WMSR and its contractors have received payments totaling $128,772

A spokesman for the Maryland State Treasurer’s Office said checks for $30,000 and $24,396 are expected to be written by next week, bringing total payments to $183,168.

Restoration work of C&O No. 1309, a 2-6-6-2, is being done at the railroad’s shop in Ridgeley, West Virginia.

Earlier this year, the restoration work was halted due to the lack of funding from the state, which had agreed to give a $400,000 capital grant to help pay for the restoration of the locomotive to operating condition. The restoration is expected to cost $1 million.

The locomotive was originally scheduled to make its first revenue trip in early July, but that has been canceled.

Trains said that the WMSR doesn’t expect to announce a date for the first run for another two weeks. That is expected to be in the fall.

WMSR bought No. 1309 from the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum in 2014. The ex-C&O Class H6 is one of the last locomotives built by Baldwin Locomotive Works for use in the United States.

Restoration Resumes on C&O 1309

May 11, 2017

Restoration work has resumed on returning former Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 to operating condition, Trains magazine reported this week.

The work was paused for two months while the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad worked with state officials to obtain funding.

The WMSR was authorized to receive a $400,000 matching grant from the state, but WMSR General Manager John Garner told Trains that raising $400,000 for a single project, while also trying to run the railroad has made it difficult for officials to maintain a steady cash flow.

Garner said contractors will need eight weeks to complete their work before the 1309 is ready to take the rails.

The remaining work includes preparations for a hydrostatic test for the boiler followed by reassembly work if the test shows the locomotive will safely hold steam and water under pressure.

Railroad officials have not yet said when they expect the 1309, which was built in 1949, to be ready for its maiden trip.

1309 Restoration Work Halted for Lack of Funds

April 28, 2017

Financial issues are preventing the completion of restoration of Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 to operating conditions.

The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad had said No. 1309 would make its maiden journey after restoration on July 1.

But slow reimbursements from the State of Maryland have jeopardized that. John Garner, superintendent of the WMSR, said all restoration work was halted in early March due to lack of funding.

Last year the Maryland governor’s office earmarked $400,000 in a matching grant to help with the restoration of No. 1309.

Garner says that the WMSR must spend its own capital dollars before reimbursement can be processed by the state.

Seeking to raise the railroad’s matching share of $400,000 while trying to continue regular operations has proven difficult for the WMSR.

Garner said state officials are working to give railroad vendors the status of approved state contractors and to also approve vendors’ invoices.

“It’s all up to the state now; if [the state] cuts a check loose tomorrow, we go back to work,” he said, adding that he can’t predict when the 1309 restoration will be completed and when the locomotive will operate.

He did say that another eight weeks of work is needed to get No. 1309 operational.

Among the remaining work to be completed is a hydrostatic test for the boiler and reassembly work if the test shows the locomotive will safely hold steam and water under pressure.

Those who have purchased tickets for the planned July 1 runs are being given refunds or re-booked on a July 4 weekend excursion. The WMSR is offering $10 vouchers good for train rides, gift shop purchases or on-board services.

Trains to Sponsor C&O 1309 Charter

March 17, 2017

Trains magazine and the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad will offer a photo charter for Chesapeake & Ohio No. 1309 in late September.

The restored locomotive will pull a freight train with 14 to 18 cars on Sept. 26 to 28, stopping at several locations on the 17-mile railroad.

Among the photo locations will be Helmstetter’s Curve. No. 1309, which was built in 1949, will wear its C&O markings and at times have Western Maryland lettering.

The event will also include a night photo shoot, cab access, and an audio-visual program detailing the restoration of the locomotive.

Tickets are $495 apiece and only 80 will be sold.  Tickets may be purchased at 800-TRAIN-50 or at wmsr.com.